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There are many benefits that come with cycling at night that can have a positive effect on your mind, body, and soul, such as dealing with less traffic and increased fitness. You can enjoy the freedom of not having a full workday after the workout and enjoy cycling the way it is meant to be enjoyed!
When I was 6, I finally got to take the training wheels off my bike.
Ever since then, riding a bike first thing in the morning had become a daily routine that I felt incomplete without. Every morning, I would take my trusty bike out and take a refreshing ride around the block, getting my exercise in first thing in the morning and then get started on the rest of my day.
However, recently I’ve been shown the magical world of night cycling, and I can safely say that I will never go back to day cycling. If you knew all the various and downright enticing benefits of cycling at night, you wouldn’t either.
So, let’s get into what. What makes night cycling so much better, and beneficial, than day cycling?
And while we’re at it, let me share some important tips and tricks too. While day cycling comes with its own set of rules, there are also some precautions that must be taken for night cycling.
Benefits of Night Cycling
Why do I prefer night cycling so much more than day cycling? Well, here are the reasons…
1. A Nice Way to End the Day
Okay, so for those of us who have full-time jobs, whether that involves working from home, working from an office, or just being a stay-at-home parent or caretaker, life is hectic.
The whole day goes by in a series of chores and errands that take up more time and brain space than I often bargained for. When nighttime comes, I’m either too mentally exhausted, or I’m too wound up to really relax.
Going out for a ride on my bike is a really nice way to end my day. I get some time to myself; I can have my earphones in, wind in my hair, and just feel the cool breeze or nighttime dew on my face as I take a ride through my favorite route or track.
2. No Exhaustion throughout the Day
One reason why I always used to hate exercising in the morning, whether that was a bike ride or going to the gym, was that I knew I had a full day ahead of me.
After physically exhausting my body, I would have to take a shower, get dressed and ready for the day, and face all the little issues and grievances that are normal in day-to-day life.
But with night cycling?
I look forward to it all day.
It’s my me-time.
I know that after a stressful day, where I might have fought with my kids or had a bad day at the office, I’ll get to go out at night when it’s nice and quiet and take a relaxing bike ride where I can be with my thoughts.
Or not be with them, if that’s what I need.
3. Sleep is So Close
What makes night cycling such an exciting new addition in my life is that I know, after a long day, after a relaxing bike ride at night, I’ll go to bed exhausted.
And it’ll be a good kind of exhausted, where my body gets to relax, recuperate and reenergize through the night, and I wake up fully refreshed in the morning.
The quality of my sleep has gotten so much better, and if that’s not inciting enough to convince you to ride your bike at night, I don’t know what is.
4. No Need to Wait for the Weekend
With daytime bike riding, I was always tempted and often fell victim to the fact that much of the time, my daytime routine was just too tiring to take a ride while the sun was still out.
I would come home from work and not have the energy to get changed to go out for a ride. And that would lead to me convincing myself that I would go out for a nice, sunny bike ride on the weekend.
I know that ever since I’ve added night cycling to my routine, I’ve been less and less tempted to forgo it.
As it becomes something I look forward to during the day, I’m more excited and willing to go out for a night ride.
5. I Feel the Need…the Need for Speed
Riding my bicycle at night has its own perks.
Since it’s dark, and many of my routes don’t really have street lights, I use my bike light to see where I’m going; this means that all I can see is the path lighted in front of me, and the branches and bushes blurring past me in my periphery.
Even if I’m not speeding, this altered field of view makes me feel like I am!
I know that I’m more alert during my night cycling because while I could easily avoid any obstacles or bumps during the day, I have to be much more focused and aware of them.
6. Much Less Traffic
Okay, I’m not going to lie; one of the reasons I keep night cycling close to my heart and don’t often like sharing the adventure and benefits of it with people is because I like keeping the roads, routes, and tracks to myself.
After everyone has gone home for the night, I know that when I go out for night cycling, I won’t run into any angry, tired, and cranky commuters who just want to go home.
I know that less traffic will mean I’ll have more of the road to myself for riding and that it’ll be much easier for me to know when a vehicle is coming up behind me (since it’s dark, and the headlights reach so far).
7. Peace & Quiet & Serenity
I’ve mentioned this a few times already, but this is such an important part of my night cycling that I knew I had to carve out a section for it.
The kind of peace, quiet, and serenity that I have been blessed to feel and witness during my night cycling is second to none.
There’s nothing quite like going out for a ride without the noise, rush, and hum of daily life going on around you. You can hear the wind rustling through the trees; you can hear the crickets singing their songs; you can feel every drop of dew in the air.
8. A Practice in Meditation
As I’ve said before, the peace and quiet that come with riding at night are incomparable. An added benefit is that I’ve managed to accomplish something that I always thought I was much too wired to ever try; meditation.
I can honestly say that night riding is incredibly meditative.
With the absence of visual distractions, I can always feel myself just getting into a meditative state: I start to zone out any visual noise and mental noise, I begin to feel one with the world, and as if I’m in a liminal state.
There’s an odd kind of peace that comes with riding when the world has gone home and gone to bed, and I’m grateful that it helps me lull myself into meditating.
9. Every Night is a New Adventure…
Without being too dramatic, I want to make it clear that night cycling comes with its own set of rules, and much of those rules have to do with the adventures that I unknowingly find myself having.
Daytime riding is a fun activity, there’s no doubt about it, but it’s also a very safe way of exercising. I know all the trails, I know all the routes, and I know which paths to take and which ones to avoid. Everything is…known to me.
But with riding at night, there’s so much that I simply don’t know.
I can try out new trails, sure, but I can also go on the same daytime trail that I’m used to and experience it in a completely new way! (Source)
10…And Then Some!
You’re bound to see some strange things at night.
Night cycling is host to a number of adventures, but it’s also host to a ridiculous variety of animals, insects, and birds that you might never have seen or heard before in your life!
Imagine taking an innocent ride, turning a corner only to be face to face with an owl just hovering in the middle of the road!
Well, it’s all in good fun, and they make for some really amazing stories!
11. The Most Obvious Benefit: Fitness
I’m sure many of you are rolling your eyes right now, wondering why I would even bother to put this on my list.
Hear me out: of course, cycling is a form of exercise and helps you keep fit. Of course, it does. But that doesn’t mean that night cycling doesn’t come with its own set of added benefits!
While it can get pretty difficult to keep up with a fitness routine that requires time out of your day, night cycling is a form of exercise that you don’t even have to think about taking time out for.
It simply becomes a part of your daily routine, is a task that you perform after all your important errands and chores have been taken care of, and is something that you’re looking forward to throughout the day because it calms you down!
So the chances of you skipping a night are much less, meaning that your fitness routine is much more likely to stay on track, keeping your skills sharp throughout the year.
12. Holidays, Eat Your Heart Out!
When you’re able to manage a fitness routine like night cycling every single night, without fail, that means that you’re definitely, 100% allowed to gorge your face during every celebration, holiday, or what have you.
No more worrying about putting on pounds during the holidays. In fact, research shows that regular cycling before the holidays actually goes a long way in preventing you from overeating during the holidays (Source).
13. Better Reaction Time
I’ve talked a lot about how night cycling helps you create a sense of calm and go into a meditative state, which is all true, but another thing that night cycling does is it keeps you on your toes.
When you’re riding at night, you’re a lot more aware of your surroundings; you pay attention to the slightest sounds (cos it’s already so quiet!), changes in light or atmosphere, and since you’re subconsciously making use of all your senses, you’re able to react much faster to anything that might surprise you otherwise.
So, have I convinced you yet?
I love cycling and I can’t really believe that it’s taken me so many years before discovering night cycling.
When I get home from work, I know that after I’ve relaxed my mind and body, I’ll get to treat myself by going out in the dark for a ride so that I can also relax my soul.
There comes a sense of ghostly peace that, far from being scary, brings a lot of quietness to my mind.
I can switch off all my worries of the present day, and I don’t allow myself to get pulled into worrying about the next day, or the next, or the next. The past and the future are unknown to me, and the only thing that matters is the present.
Everything feels magnified; the roads feel longer, the street lights brighter, and the soft, crackling sounds of animal nightlife are nearly Narnia-esque, taking me into a magical, otherworldly dimension that’s far away from my mundane normal life.
I exist in a floating state of calm, in an adventure of my own, different each night, where I can slowly allow myself to drift.
As Robert Frost so aptly and famously said,
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
What Do You Need for Night Cycling?
Apart from a really good, sturdy, and reliable bicycle (obviously!), there are a few things that, as a bike rider, I knew that I had to invest in before I could begin my journey into night cycling.
1. Bicycle Lighting
When you’re cycling at night, light is essential.
Whether it’s already dark, or just starting to get dark, chances are that your eyes can’t see in the dark like your cat, so as hard as they might have to work to get used to the dim lighting, there will still be a point where it will be too dark for you to see the little bumps in the road or track that you’re riding on. So the first thing I invested in was a good bike light.
Oftentimes, the main reason that bike riders invest in a good light is that similar to other vehicles like cars.
The light has two functions: it makes it easier for you, the rider, to see ahead of you, and for the other vehicles ahead, alongside or behind you to see you on the road.
Imagine you’re taking your night ride on a crowded road or highway, surrounded by vehicles, large and small, going much faster than you.
You need that extra bike light to make sure that your fellow road riders know that you’re also there, so they can be careful.
Focus on the visibility that the light gives to you and your bike, rather than how cool it looks. For night cycling on dark streets and tracks, opt for a wide highlight and brightness, making use of LEDs to ensure that you’re not accidentally blinding anyone else on the road coming from the opposite side.
2. Condition of the Bicycle
Although checking your bike’s condition is something that you should be doing on a regular basis anyway, for night cycling it’s even more important, because there are fewer chances that a garage will be open to help you out in case of any accidents or issues.
Be intensive in your checks; check the brakes thoroughly, look at the condition of your tires and the bicycle chain, and don’t leave anything to the future in case anything seems like it needs to be fixed.
3. Know your Route or Track Well
If you’re planning to take the same route at night that you used to take during the day for your bike riding, heed my warning: the ground at night is not the same as it is during the day!
It’s easy to feel overconfident and assume that you know the route or track like the back of your hand, but there are bumps and holes that we subconsciously avoid in the daylight that we might not even remember at night.